National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor offers President-elect Barack Obama some national security advice in his latest piece today:
[T]he prospect of anyone in the U.S. being inappropriately wiretapped, surveilled, or data-mined seems to stir the viscera of many Bush critics more than the prospect of thousands of people being murdered by terrorists. This despite the paucity of evidence that any innocent person anywhere has been seriously harmed in recent decades by governmental abuse of wiretapping, surveillance, or data mining.
On these and similar issues, Obama will have a choice: He can give the Left what it wants and weaken our defenses. Or he can follow the advice of his more prudent advisers, recognize that Congress, the courts, and officials including Attorney General Michael Mukasey have already moved to end the worst Bush administration abuses — and kick the hard Left gently in the teeth. I’m betting that Obama is smart and tough enough to do the latter.
Matt Ygelsias notes, “For years now the sensible center has engaged in the weird conceit that dislike of illegal violations of Americans’ constitutional liberties is some kind of odd symptom of possessing unduly vocifierous dislike of George W. Bush. But the issue, of course, extends far beyond Bush. The issue is whether or not we’re going to have meaningful limits on the power of the federal executive to conduct surveillance.”